Appliance retailer Lowe's Companies, Inc. reported net earnings of U.S. $455 million for the quarter ended April 30, 2004, an 8.1-percent increase over the same period a year ago.
Diluted earnings per share increased 7.5 percent to $0.57 from $0.53 in the first quarter of 2003. Excluding the $126 million net earnings and $0.16 per share impact of Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF) 02-16, net earnings would have been $581 million, a 38-percent increase over last year's first quarter, and diluted earnings per share would have increased 37.7 percent to $0.73.
Sales for the quarter increased 22 percent to $8.68 billion, up from $7.12 billion in the first quarter of 2003. Comparable store sales for the first quarter increased 9.9 percent.
"Strength in every product category and across every geographic region drove solid earnings growth in the first quarter," said Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's president. "Continued strong sales in big-ticket categories such as outdoor power equipment and kitchen cabinets are an indication that consumers are not only willing, but are enthusiastic about investing in products and projects that maintain and enhance their greatest asset -- their home."
During the quarter, Lowe's opened 29 new stores and closed one store. As of April 30, 2004, Lowe's operated 980 stores in 45 states representing 111.9 million sq ft of retail selling space, a 15.1-percent increase over last year.
The retailer said it expected to sales to increase 19 percent with a comparable store sales increase of 6 to 7 percent in the second quarter of 2004 and 18 percent for the entire year, with comparable store sales of 6 to 7 percent. In addition, the retailer said it will open 19 stores in the second quarter of 2004 and 140 stores for the entire year.
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